Expanded statistical analysis of squats on the Great Britain (GB) mainline network

G. Tucker, K. Sztrauch, A. Bevan, Y. Muhamedsalih, S. Hawksbee, P. Shackleton, P. Mistry, B. Whitney, M. Burstow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Squat defects are one of the most common rail surface defects. Significant research effort has gone into understand squat defects over the last 10 years which has brought about important developments in the understanding of their initiation mechanism; however, further work is still required to fully understand squat and the best methods to control them. This study considers records of squat defects over a period 9 years, considering 2600 km of track across 8 different routes on the GB mainline network. The analysis separately reviews squats on: plainline, crossings, joints and welds. Results include an overview of the main factors influencing the development of each type of squats, practical methods to immediately reduce and manage squat defects and recommends focus areas for further research to understand squat defects. Results suggest that squats on plainline, crossings, joints and welds, all correlate with different influencing factors; headcheck defects appear to significantly influence the probability of squats and how other factors influence squat development. There is a strong connection between total head wear rate (combined material removal due to traffic and grinding) and squats; 90 % of all squats appear on rail with a headwear rate of <0.2 mm/year. Overall larger section rail (60 kg/m vs 56 kg/m) and harder material (260 Brinell vs 220 Brinell) is significantly less susceptible to squat damage. Track curvature has an influence of squat development, especially in rail with no headcheck cracking, where the tightest curves are significantly more likely to sustain squat damage. The probability of squat at vertical discontinuities, i.e. joints and crossings are significantly more likely as train speed increases. Whilst squats on joints are 1000 time more likely than squats on welds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21112
Number of pages16
Issue number11
Early online date30 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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